Birth 10 May 1960
By tradition, rock and roll is for bad boys and girls. The record industry tries its best to sell us bland, pre-packed ‘family’ entertainers, but the stars who change the times and the music, the immortals, are the rebels and misfits: Presley, Halliday, Dylan, Lennon, Richards, Gainsbourg, Marley, Lydon, Strummer, Eminem.
Bono is the straight arrow in the pack. Of the holy trinity of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, he’s only ever bothered with the last. He’s become the world’s biggest rock star with anthems that shout out what he’s searching for (italics) rather what he’s rebelling against.
His musical idealism has led to major involvement in global politics. A tireless campaigner against world poverty, Bono has met and won over two American Presidents, as well as a Pope, President Putin, multi-millionaire George Soros and UN Secretary Kofi Annan.
The qualities that have allowed Bono to claim his unique role are written large in his horoscope. Born under the dogged, determined sign of Taurus, Bono has never been a quitter. He’s stayed loyal to U2 for 30 years – an eternity in rock terms – and remains married to his childhood sweetheart, Ali Stewart.
Bono’s Taurean qualities are magnified by having three planets in the sign. With his Sun (self), Mercury (communication) and Venus (creativity) grouped together, here is a born artist and talker. Bono’s identity as a mega-Bull includes his appearance – he’s short, stocky, and even wore horns for the Zooropa tour of 1992. Then there’s his name – Taurus is linked to the neck and voice, and the nickname he took at 14 – Bono Vox, means ‘Good Voice’ in Latin.
The intense, secretive sign of Scorpio provides the second theme in Bono’s horoscope. Two planets (Moon and Neptune) in Scorpio describe passion and sensitivity. As for secrets, who truly knows what Bono gets up to when he’s off-duty? Very, very few people. He’s private.
The Moon and Neptune are planets that show how we receive impressions, rather than how we take action. Together, they show great sensitivity to other people’s suffering, and empathy with victims. Neptune is also the planet of spirituality, so it’s little surprise that Christianity is a long-running theme in U2 songs. Yearning for peace in Northern Ireland on ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’, he sings about ‘claiming the victory that Jesus won’.
Bono’s faith, though seldom articulated outside U2 songs, remains his creative and moral raison d’être, and may be the defining element in why he is the biggest rock star on the planet and, perversely, why rock alone cannot contain him.
At times, Bono has come across as a modern day saint. ‘You can see the halo over his head,’ said right-wing Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, a man not given to irony or overstatement. Indeed, he could be just another well-meaning, charity supporting celebrity, but Bono’s horoscope lends him a practical, focused side; aside from his Taurus planets there’s Saturn, the businessman’s planet, in another practical earth sign, Capricorn.
All four members of U2 have Saturn in this hard-working sign, and the group have always done good business, made good money (1). Likewise, when Bono does politics, he’s hard-nosed. ‘I do my homework,’ he has said. ‘I’ve a soft spot for the boring minutiae. I read the charter of the United Nations… it’s a lot more glamorous to be on the barricade with a handkerchief around your nose than it is to be at the meeting with a briefcase and a bowler hat.’
Because U2 share the same position of Saturn, the timekeeper, their life events have often coincided. Saturn takes 29 years to orbit the Sun, and for Bono, events at the half-point of Saturn’s cycle were particularly important; the tragic death of his mother, his first meeting with his future wife, and his reinvention from Paul Hewson to Bono Vox. ‘Paul Hewson died a long time ago,’ he said just last year.
Three quarters of the way round Saturn’s cycle, at age 21, U2 release their first album and get their first taste of success when it peaks (2). And when Saturn returned to its starting point in 1990, the band release Achtung Baby, a record that adds experimentalism and electronica to their stadium rock sound. As a group, they are reborn. ‘We realised we had reached the end of one particular phase,’ said The Edge.
Before that, during the mid-Eighties, Bono’s horoscope was under the influence of Pluto, the planet of power and transformation (3). Pluto’s energies are extreme, and can be destructive, but for Bono they transformed his status from just another rocker to global mega-star. In 1985, Pluto passed over Bono’s Moon, just as he plays a pivotal role in Live Aid.
In more recent years, Bono has marched in time with his horoscope. In 1999-2000, as Saturn crossed his three Taurus planets, Bono raised his political game, helping force through huge debt relief at the G8 summit in Cologne. With Saturn now halfway through its second orbit of U2’s four horoscopes, it’s no surprise that the band have a new album, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, and another global tour.
In the autumn of 2005, Bono enters a particularly fortunate phase, as lucky Jupiter crosses that all-important Moon-Neptune spot in his birth chart. Scooping the Nobel Peace Prize– for which he has already been nominated for his Africa campaign – is definitely on the cards.
Would winning the Nobel prize turn the world’s biggest rock star into Saint Bono? Neptune is a tricky planet, so look for a whiff of something scandalous, even if it’s only confirmation that when he’s off stage and off-duty, Bono enjoys a bottle of fine wine and a good cigar. Whatever happens, music and politics are in simultaneous focus; ‘Rock and roll is the art of the impossible, politics is the art of the possible,’ Bono has said. This year, the two sides of Bono – tough politicians and pop pope – become one.
1.U2 are well matched astrologically, with earth and water signs dominant (practicality and emotion respectively). Adam Clayton (Pisces Sun and Virgo Moon), Larry Mullen (Scorpio Sun, Leo Moon), The Edge (Leo Sun, Cancer Moon).
2. Saturn square natal Saturn from autumn 1981 to summer 82
3. Pluto conjunct Moon 1985-86, Pluto conjunct Neptune 1986-87